Page:My Life and Loves.djvu/187

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155
ON THE TRAIL.

more fords where cattle could cross almost without wetting themselves.

Bob got off his horse in a clump of cottonwood trees which he said was a good place to camp without being seen. I asked him where the cattle were and he told me "across the river". Within two or three miles, it appeared, there was a famous hacienda with great herds. As soon as it got dark he proposed to go across and find out all about it and bring us the news. We were to be careful not to be seen and he hoped that we would not even make a fire but lie close till he returned.

We were more than willing, and when we got tired of talking Bent produced an old deck of cards and we would play draw poker or euchre or casino for two or three hours. The first night passed quickly enough. We had been in the saddle for ten hours a day for four or five days and slept a dreamless sleep. Bob did not return that day or the next and on the third day Bent began to curse him, but I felt sure he had good reason for the delay and so waited with what patience I could muster. On the third night he was suddenly with us just as if he had come out of the earth.

"Welcome back", I cried. "Everything right?"

"Everything", he said: "It was no good coming sooner; they have brought some cattle within four miles of the river; the orders are to keep 'em away seven or eight miles, so that they could not be driven across without rousing the whole country; but Don José is very rich and carefree and there is a herd of fifteen hundred that will suit us not three miles from the river in a fold of the prairie guarded only by two men whom I'll make so very drunk that they'll hear nothing till next morning. A couple of bottles of